I have reached a new stage in my life where I am trying to overcome the flaws that are detrimental to my long-term success.
Here are the shortcomings I struggle with the most:
- giving up
- losing interest in things
- making excuses
- not pushing myself further
- perfectionism (fear)
But I have come a long way since 2011.
In high school, no one could have predicted I’d end up graduating from The University of Michigan, landing a job at Google in NYC, or moving to Berlin to work at a tech startup to work in sales.
I was a loner who had two or three friends and faced constant bullying and harassment. My school relegated me to the “resource room,” where the kids who need extra time on tests spend a period or two of each day working on homework or class assignments.
I played sports like football and tennis and ran track, but I never made the starting teams.
The “good life” always felt like it was out of my control somehow. Like it belonged to a divine realm that I had no way of influencing through thoughts or actions.
But after I graduated high school and my social anxiety disappeared completely, I realized something incredible–I did have full control. And not just over myself but over the kinds of gifts I received from the world.
I believed that there was something more out there, waiting for me to take it.
I started to love myself more and realized that just because my classmates hadn’t placed a high value on me, it didn’t mean I wasn’t worthy of the best life had to offer.
At age 17, after working countless jobs in restaurants and stores and landscaping, I realized I would never settle for average or boring. The idea of turning a minimum wage job into a career didn’t sit well with me.
I had seen my mother struggle to make ends meet while driving a school bus and cleaning houses on the side.
My father isn’t in the picture, and I had seen my mother push beyond what many humans can do just to put food on the table.
I was tired of seeing my mother barely scrape by and knew that if I wanted more, I could get it.
It was bizarre that I had this realization at all because, at the time, I was attending a non-competitive college in Florida and was miserable. My classes were a joke, and I felt like I was in high school 2.0.
So, it wasn’t like something magical or traumatic had happened to me that changed my beliefs.
I just made the conscious mindset shift.
Four years later, I confirmed that my beliefs weren’t unfounded when I ended up at The University of Michigan with a full financial aid package after transferring colleges for the third time. Michigan covered everything that my federal loan wouldn’t and made it possible for me to graduate with very little debt. I only transferred from my third school to Michigan because I couldn’t afford to attend any longer.
Many of my friends and people I tell about my experience remark that it was quite a feat. That not many people would have kept pushing.
It’s one of my most significant accomplishments, but I was fortunate, and I don’t deny that.
However, my determination to graduate from college paired with my refusal to settle made this outcome almost inevitable.
I find that being admitted into a program or getting a job is the easiest part for me. I don’t struggle to present myself and find that I am more than capable of putting in the time to get what I want.
Where I struggle is once I begin.
It’s like I had all this motivation while submitting applications and interviewing but feel drained before the most challenging part has even begun.
I realize that I lack the work ethic to get to the next level.
Fortunately, I have a growth mindset and don’t believe in fixed values. I think if there’s something I want, I go after it until I get it.
I am developing the internal motivation to keep pushing to succeed when the race is a marathon and not a sprint — staying ahead of the pack instead of coasting and raising an entire company’s standards.
The way forward
This year, I am working to adopt the kind of work ethic found in some of the world’s best-known industrialists.
The kind of people whose work is an embodiment of their souls. Who compete at the highest level and don’t accept mediocrity in any form, not from themselves or others.
Something I have noticed is that Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos seem to have infinite energy. They also do things rather than just talk about them.
Their intensive focus and drive make it possible for them to successfully tackle multiple projects at once, without losing the fire or vision over the years. In other words, they are not the kind of people who give up or make excuses.
They keep their promises to themselves and don’t fall into the traps we set for ourselves, like pushing things off until it “feels right.”
The first step for me to hurdle over this boundary that is preventing me from reaching the next level is to stop worrying about what people might think.
I love writing and have been too afraid to let people in to publish my work.
This year, as I write articles for you, I aim to help ambitious people like myself who are searching for answers to reach the next level in their lives. Growing up, I didn’t have anyone I could look to for information about the college admissions process or what it takes to run a multi-million dollar business, so I had to read and absorb what I came across.
The good news is that my journey has taught me that all the answers are out there, and the only obstacle to benefitting from them is yourself.
After all, if you don’t apply the knowledge you learn from wise people to your own life, it’s useless. It’s an engineless Formula 1 car sitting in your driveway, collecting dust — an oversized desk ornament.
I have certainly pushed myself to heights I couldn’t have imagined in 2011 when I graduated high school, but I am still near the bottom of the ladder and have a hell of a long way left before I get to the top.
Climbing the rest of the way is impossible with these weights pulling me down, so it’s time to shed them.
The first step in overcoming these flaws is to stop waiting for things to be perfect.
Here’s my first article and I am about to hit publish.